Running on roads has not always been high on my list of ‘likes’, but with good company the miles have passed quickly beneath my feet. Unfortunately, the good company I run with are also into events. Everything, from 10k races, dragon boating, triathlons, the Marathon Des Sables, multi-day adventure racing, you name it. So it was inevitable that I would get talked into a half marathon at some point!
My training was probably a bit inadequate, but I was feeling excited about the event, hopeful that the miles built up over the years would see me through. I had been out at a wedding the night before and the clocks had just gone forward, so with 4.5 hours’ sleep, I drove up to Wilmslow for the half marathon last Sunday.
For those who have never done a mass participation event, the excitement in the air is a beautiful thing. Runners doing all their pre-race rituals (mine seemed to consist of repeatedly re-tying my laces to get them *just* right), spectators getting into place and food and drinks and massages to be had. All of this was backdropped with an exceptionally warm spring morning. For first-timers, I recommend getting to the event with plenty of time so you know where you’re going and don’t start the race stressed out. Also, find the spot in the mass of runners that matches your intended time, so you don’t end up overtaking thousands of people, or worse still, being overtaken by thousands!
At 1030am the starter’s gun went off, and a see of runners sped up through the starting archway, like a breaking wave that spilled out as far as the eye could see ahead. The first 2 miles went by quickly, and I was being cheered on by spectators all the way past the 5 mile marker. By 7 miles, I was glad to be over half the way around the course and made a conscious decision to slow my pace. I had started much faster than anticipated, though general advice is to run yor second half faster than your first half. By 10 miles, I had the usual aches and pains, laced with a little self-doubt as to whether I would keep the pace up. The course seemed to get hillier as the miles rolled on!
By 11 miles, I feel confident: only two miles to go, and although the heat was now getting unpleasant, there were sufficient water stops to keep me hydrated and I knew I was still on course to hit my target time. By 12 miles, I was dying to speed up but held it in. With hald a mile to go, I was surprised to see runners collapsed and being pulled off the course, but I knew it was my time to built up speed to a sprint finish. The last few hundred yards were laboured but felt amazing- my first half marathon, in exactly the time I wanted… Result!